Today I start my two weeks vacation and I thought I should summarize this year. The year of 2006 has been characterized, for me, as the year of Betas and Technology Previews. I have been trying to involve myself as much as possible in the all the goodies flowing out of Redmond.

Microsoft has released numerous amount of new applications and upgrades.

Internet Explorer 7

The new version of Internet Explorer is the application this year that will have most impact in the short run on users. More standardized and a slicker interface with support of for example blogs.

Windows Vista

Windows Vista, the long awaited new operating system from Microsoft was released in November. I have been fiddling with the different betas, mostly on Virtual PC‘s. Short after the RTM I decided to replace my XP Media Center with Vista Ultimate. I’m not that satisfied yet due to lack of drivers; NVIDIA have not yet released a Vista driver that works fine, like the ones on XP.

Vista is overall pretty good, it has some nice features like the new Media Center, DVD writer software, a better photo management application… The interface has intensively discussed but I think it’s not that revolutionary. I think the Explorer interface is really bad, navigation is not that good. I’ll stick with Total Commander!

I will not upgrade my development laptop for a couple of months until all the issues with development in Visual Studio is sorted out, and I have no need for it - XP works fine.

Microsoft.NET Framework

The .NET Framework, has come in a new version - 3.0. But it’s not a complete new .NET Framework, it’s “just” .NET 2.0 with WinFX. But it’s good - really good. You now can create really awesome appliactions with a nice user interface.

Office System 2007

The Office System 2007 with the client applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint and the server applications like SharePoint is by far the most interesting new applications this year for me. I have been into the betas and release candidates and been satisified since the first install. A complete new interface of the client applications that really impress and a SharePoint that finally allows us developers to do some nice stuff. SharePoint 2003, the previous version, was not that good for us developers and lacked a lot of functionality in the first version which has now come back. Someone said that Microsoft need at least three versions before they get it right :-)

The new Outlook 2007 and OneNote 2007 are two really impressive applications.

Developer tools

Microsoft has been really nice to us developers this year with a new and improved MSDN, more samples and tutorials than ever. Visual Studio 2005 has finally gotten an upgrade, Service Pack 1, that fixes most of the random crashes and hang-ups.

The Visual Studio 2005 SDK has also evolved with the support for making your own designers using the DSL Tools - I think that ISV’s will now have the opportunity to make their applications more customizable.

The Microsoft Expression Suite

The Expression Suite from Microsoft was from my view the most surprising set of applications from Redmond. The Expression programs is applications for design, design of applications and design of web sites. The Commuity Technology Previews that has been released during the year has been really good, except for the last one this december, in which the removed some of the nice and interesting stuff from Expression Design.

Microsoft Live

The Microsoft Live approach has been interesting, with a new portal (never fancied MSN), a new search engine and a whole set of web based applications. Most of them are still in beta and it will be really nice to see where this path leads.

There has been a lot more that has been installed and uninstalled on my machines during this year, like Exchange 2007 and the Live applications, and it has been really exciting. You can find some of them on Codeplex, the Microsoft open source site.

What about next year?

Yes, what about next year? I will not predict too much but for me the focus will be on SharePoint 2007, which will open up a whole new set of opportunities for my company. I really loook forward to see what will happen to the Expression suite and I will start to nibble on the Longhorn Server.

To all of you:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

/Wictor